Badlands beats down Souris Valley 11-1, eliminates Sabre Dogs from playoffs

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Sabre Dogs relief pitcher Matt Sartwell throws a pitch during the third inning of Wednesday's playoff game against the Badlands Big Sticks. The Big Sticks defeated the Sabre Dogs 11-1.

DICKINSON — The Badlands Big Sticks lived up to their team name in Wednesday night’s divisional round of the Expedition League playoffs. The Badlands’ offensive onslaught paved the way for a 11-1 victory, eliminating the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs in the process.

The Sabre Dogs traveled to Dickinson with 12 available players — six of which were pitchers — due to players leaving early for college or battling injuries.

“We just didn’t have enough firepower at the end,” Sabre Dogs head coach Corey Thompson said. “They’re a good team. I predict they’re probably going to win the whole thing. They’re able-bodied, and their offense is firing on all cylinders. They throw strikes, they’ve got all-around power and they throw good breaking balls.”

The Big Sticks struck at least once in the first four frames at the Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark in Dickinson. They scored two runs in the first inning, one apiece in the second and third, and three more in the fourth.

Sabre Dogs pitchers Jace Mapston and Matt Sartwell each pitched two innings and allowed the contest’s first seven runs.

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Sabre Dogs third baseman Phillip Childs smiles during a break in the action at Dakota Community Bank and Trust Ballpark in Dickinson.

Souris Valley catcher Drew Pollum’s RBI single off Badlands starter Malik Barrington got the visitors on the board. Badlands countered with another RBI single in the fifth off new reliever Chase Grillo.

Second baseman Sam Powers and first baseman (normally a pitcher) Nathaniel Brezner-Mendoza turned a nifty double play to end the inning. The score remained 8-1 off the strength of 13 Big Sticks’ hits.

Neither team scratched in the sixth, which marked the only inning the Big Sticks did not bring any runs across home plate.

Both Barrington and Grillo departed, making way for Gabe Lizarraga and Caden Kaelber, respectively. Badlands shortstop Michael Fuhrman tagged a deep two-out, two-run homer off Kaelber.

After Lizarraga recorded two outs, the former Dickinson State pitcher walked off the mound to a standing ovation. Reliever Tyler Chipman struck out Caelber, retiring the side.

Badlands added another run off Marcelo Terrazas — the Sabre Dogs’ fifth pitcher of the game — in the eighth inning. The home team clinched the victory and a second straight championship series appearance in the top of the ninth inning.

“I think if we had all of our guys, we definitely could have been standing where they are right now,” third baseman Phillip Childs said. “That would be pretty cool, but that’s how baseball goes. Hopefully, everyone developed this summer and can take something back with them to school ball.”

The Sabre Dogs finished with four hits, while the Big Sticks ended the game with 17. Souris Valley also committed three errors.

For a second consecutive year, the Big Sticks eliminated the Sabre Dogs in the postseason’s first round. Souris Valley finished with an overall record of 38-27.

“Watching them the last 10-12 games, where they came from, they’re just tremendously better,” Thompson said. “Better human beings, better players as well. I think it was fun to watch.”

Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.